If you’ve ever wondered how to calm anxious thoughts, this article is for you.
Anxiety it is an emotion that we feel throughout our lives. Like any other emotion, it can be experienced fully without any negative outcomes. Don’t suppress it, that’s a bad idea. Don’t try to fight it, that’s also a bad idea. Accept it and cope with it.
I’m not saying it’s a pleasant experience because, believe me, no one likes feeling anxious…but the truth is that you have the ability to face it and cope with it.
How To Calm Anxious Thoughts:
There are many ways to deal with your daily anxiety. Accepting it is only the first step. Next, what do you do about it? You can surrender to it and live the life you DON’T want to live or you can cope with it and do the work it takes to conquer it. You’ll be a happier, more peaceful and serene individual.
If you want to live a fulfilling life, you need to find a way to live with your anxiety. This is just another way of saying you’ll cope with it. With anxiety, there are many ways to cope.
Some may not work for you and some may do wonders for you…so it’s a trial and error process. Don’t be discouraged. If you try something that doesn’t work at least you know one more strategy that won’t work. In this article, you’ll be presented with the top 18 strategies, tips, tricks you can start doing TODAY to deal with your daily anxiety so you can live the life you want to live.
Although therapy and medication are always an option, many people don’t want to spend the time and money required to take this route. The focus of this post is to help you cope with your anxiety so you won’t need treatment. Should your anxiety become too overwhelming and crippling, do not hesitate to contact a licensed therapist near you. These 18 strategies will help you lead a healthier life in spite of anxiety, stress and worry.
1. Relax – Take a Break
This may sound like an obvious solution but it is the one that we do the least! Take a load off. Studies show that people who take a break during the day are happier, more productive and more fulfilled in their lives. If you feel your anxiety levels rising, find a quiet place to take a break for a minute or two. Most of us can spare two minutes during our day to relax.
Should you be in a situation where taking time to relax isn’t possible, try taking a few deep breaths with your eyes closed. Trust me, this goes a long way and studies show that a few deep, focused breaths can slow your heart rate and reduce sweating.
Many people find it relaxing to just “let it all out.” Start writing in a journal or on a blog to put all your thoughts, feelings, anxieties into words. Putting your feelings on paper is very freeing and many report that writing has become their therapy. Lastly, a good scream or hits on the punching bag (exercise) is a great way to release pent up emotion and energy.
2. Take Responsibility for Your Anxiety
Some people choose to hide behind their condition while others use it as an excuse to avoid specific aspects of their life. You have more control than you realize over your actions and how things in your life progress. Sure, life is unpredictable but how you respond to life is in your control.
Taking responsibility for your anxiety and its impact on your life is a big step in taking back control of YOUR life. If you want to be a slave to your anxiety and let it control you, you’ll miss the beautiful side of life. You won’t achieve your goals and you’ll continue living an unfulfilled life. We often regret the things we don’t do more than the ones we do, so what do you have to lose? Try conquering your anxiety and pushing through some of your mental barriers today.
3. What’s the worst that can happen?
In most cases the actual cause for worry is insignificant or even irrelevant. We may be anxious for no reason! Realizing this will help you properly identify the significance of your fears and concerns. If you realize you’re anxious for no real reason, then you can stop right there and continue on with your life. If you are anxious over something that is happening in your life and the worry seems all consuming, don’t fret, ask yourself “what’s the worst that can happen?”
Sometimes just thinking about and being prepared for the ultimate worst-case scenario can bring you back to reality and allow you to see that it wouldn’t be the “end of the world” or that you “wouldn’t have a heart attack” if you didn’t get an A on that test.
In most cases the answer to “what’s the worst that can happen?” will be quite simple.
Nervous about a job interview? “What’s the worst that can happen?” You don’t get the job and you keep applying. That’s it.
4. Accept uncertainty
People who constantly worry do so because there is a level of uncertainty about their future…much of the worry coming from the potential unpleasant results. If you know exactly how a situation will play out, then there’s no need to worry.
Life doesn’t always work this way and there are numerous factors that can affect outcomes. Just accepting this simple fact goes a long way to alleviating your anxiety. Instead of trying to predict the future, accept that life is full of uncertainty. Put yourself in the best position to get the outcome you want but be prepared to deal with uncertainty.
Simply thinking about the things that can go wrong won’t make them go away, nor will it guarantee that they’ll happen. Why not think about the positive things that may happen instead? Be prepared for the worst but realize that good things do happen.
5. Challenge your negative thoughts
You may find yourself constantly think about all the negative things that may happen or how badly life will turn out. These thoughts are most likely not based on anything substantive and you can discredit them by challenging them.
These irrational, pessimistic attitudes are also known as cognitive distortions and aren’t based in reality. While they aren’t based in reality, it can be difficult to challenge and restructure them. If you have developed a pattern of negative thinking it will be difficult to break but it is possible and you can do it with focus and dedication. You just have to retrain your brain to challenge those worries as they appear.
Do a little reality testing with your negative thoughts. If you get fired will you really die? Probably not. If your girlfriend breaks up with you will the world come to an end? Nope. Try to look at the situation in a more positive, realistic light. Maybe that job wasn’t for you. Had you gotten it, you may have been miserable. It is possible that your ex-girlfriend wasn’t “the one” so there was no point wasting more of your time and hers when it wasn’t meant to be. You could find someone better for you! That’s an exciting prospect, instead of a negative one.
6. Surround Yourself with Positive People
Friends and acquaintances play an important role in the way we think and feel. If there are positive people around us, our thoughts generally follow and it works similarly for negative people as well.
Think about when you last hung out with your negative friends. Did they talk about anything positive? Probably not. What about those with a more positive outlook? Maybe it’s time to spend more time with them instead of hanging with those who fuel your anxiety. Surround yourself with people who can act as positive friends, supports and confidantes.
You never know who has experienced exactly what you’re going though and you may find someone who will be a positive influence or that person may just have a positive spirit (even if you can’t put your finger on it) that will rub off on you.
7. Indulge in What You Enjoy
What’s life without a little indulgence? In moderation of course but doing what you enjoy can take your mind off some major stressors. Hobbies, games and exercise are all ways to greatly reduce your stress. Physical activity burns off the worry inducing hormones and while endorphins are released through exercise, you’ll start to feel better. Don’t limit yourself to simple traditional exercise. Gardening, carpentry, painting, reading, writing or even gaming can keep your mind off your worries, too.
If you aren’t getting any extracurricular physical or mental exercise, your thoughts will surely go back to your stressors. Find something that interests you and become engaged. Do a jigsaw puzzle…you’ll be amazed at how quickly time flies and how relaxing it can be. Don’t have any interests, find some.
The act of looking for hobbies and interests is a proven way to relieve anxiety. Your mind is actively focusing on something else.
When your anxiety levels rise, you’ll tend to breathe in short, shallow bursts. By taking long, purposeful breaths, your anxiety levels will decrease and this will help calm you down. These long breaths can slow the mind and reduce the major symptoms of increasing anxiety.
Surprise, surprise. This list wouldn’t be complete without exercise. Staying active takes your mind off your worries
When you do any form of cardio exercise, your body burns off adrenaline, which is produced when you get anxious. Burning off this adrenaline will make you feel better immediately. Try doing 30 minutes of cardio-vascular exercise 4 times a week. You’ll feel better because of it.
10. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is a technique in which a person focuses on bodily sensations. Fully experiencing your anxiety and having a wide outlook allows you to cope with anxious feelings and thoughts. Don’t hide from them, embrace them! By remaining present in your body, mindfulness allows you to learn that anxiety is just a reaction and by positively responding to these events you can overcome your anxiety.
Take a moment during your day to hear the sounds, feel the breeze, smell the roses. Live in the present, control what you can now and you’ll be amazed at just how much power you have over your reactions.
It’s just what it sounds like. When you feel your anxiety levels rising, consider disconnecting at that moment. For a few seconds, during an intense moment, think of something else entirely. This breaks the intensity and helps drop your anxiety levels. This actually happens all the time during our daily lives we just don’t think about it. Have you ever been concentrating on something and a car drives by, taking away your attention? This was a disconnection.
It’s possible to purposefully distract yourself from your current train of thought for a few seconds. You can create that distracting car driving by. Use your phone! As a silent room disturbed by a ringing cell phone, an anxious mind can be as easily distracted. Send a text about something irrelevant. Play a quick game or surf the web…just for a few seconds. You’ll be amazed at how much your anxiety levels drop in that moment.
12. Be Prepared
If we’re prone to anxiety then we can prepare for it! We KNOW we’ll get anxious in the future but we can’t always predict when. What we can do is prepare our mind to react. Use some of the aforementioned strategies to reduce your anxiety, even before it happens.
Play is vital for freeing the mind and clearing it from all worries for a short time. Find time to laugh and play. You’ll feel relaxed afterward and may not even remember what was making you anxious!
14. Use Calming Aromas
Certain smells and fragrances have proven effects on people’s minds. Specific essential oils (usually added to bathwater or candles) such as Lavender helps you sleep, calms your nerves and decreases your anxiety. Not only to essential oils soothe your anxiety, they offer a wide variety of other health benefits. Every person is different so you may have to experiment but eventually you’ll find what works for you.
15. Listen to Music
We all have our favorite music but we may not utilize it as a tool for reducing anxiety. Don’t forget to use music’s power to aid in your emotional health. Certain types of music and certain sounds have proven to be helpful when dealing with anxiety. Another way to use music is to create it! Are you a musician? Make your own soothing sounds and, in effect , you’ll be creating your own remedy!
16. Talk About It
Talk to someone who will listen. It can be anyone. Friends, family or acquaintances. Talk with them and share your thoughts and experiences. While this isn’t therapy with a trained clinician, talking has many benefits and is quite cathartic. If you choose not to seek professional help, it is beneficial to have a person you can talk to instead of bottling everything up.
Why punish yourself by stuffing your raw emotions? Reach out! There are so many ways to connect with people these days so utilize them wisely. Don’t simply rely on the internet though. It is best to have someone you can physically talk to, preferably in person (or on the phone). The connection between two humans sharing the same physical space offers many healing benefits. Give it a try. You’ll be glad you did.
17. Avoid Black and White Thinking
There are two kinds of problems: One that can be solved and one that cannot. Before you start feeling anxious, ask yourself this: Is the problem a solvable one? Is the problem a real one? The answers to those questions are usually pretty straightforward and will allow you to put things in perspective. Many situations aren’t clear and we can’t predict the future, no matter how hard we try.
Accepting this and seeing unsolvable problems for what they are will allow us to devote our mental resources appropriately. Black and white thinking is detrimental to our mental state because it offers two options. That’s it! How many situations ONLY have two options? Life is liquid, with an infinite amount of variations so we shouldn’t lock ourselves in to having only two options. Doing so will increase our anxiety because if it isn’t one then it HAS to be the other when that’s just not how life works.
18. Recognize False Alarms
If you fear that you’ll die every time you ride an elevator, look at the stats. Statistically speaking, you won’t. Your rapid heartbeat doesn’t mean you are having a heart attack. Try acknowledging these thoughts for what they are, and letting them pass by without a second thought.
The aforementioned 18 ways are coping strategies that will work only when applied in the right manner. Persistent practice is essential to master these strategies and, while some techniques may give you instant relief, some may take time to show their affect.
Also note that the time taken to cope with anxiety and control the emotions can differ from one person to another and is based on a number of factors like your personality, living environment, genetics, trauma history, and your lifestyle.
Always remember that whatever the reason for your anxiety, you CAN cope with it. You’re a lot stronger than you realize.
Thank you for reading this article about how to calm anxious thoughts and I really hope that you take action my advice. I wish you good luck and I hope its contents have been a good help to you.